Sunday, January 31, 2010

365 Project Update ~ January 2010

It is January 31, 2010, and my 365 project has been going well! I have successfully taken a picture every day this month. I even just uploaded my last picture for January. I have learned so much already! Because I'm playing with the camera every day, I feel like I'm learning the use of a new setting each time I pick it up. Today, I learned a bit more about white balance.

Krillin Light
White Balance: Auto

This week's theme for our group 365 project is Eyes. For my first picture, I was trying to snap a picture of Krillin's, but it seemed on the monitor that the green of his iris and the warm colors in his fur just weren't as vivid as they should be. He almost looked monochrome!

Krillin Medium
White Balance: Daylight

So remembering how the wrong white balance made the night sky seem blue, I played around with the light setting. Since the sun was streaming through the windows, I set it to daylight. This is better, but still not as warm.

Krillin's True Colors
White Balance: Shade

Next, I set it to Shade. These are Krillin's true colors. Comparing them all together, you can see how drastic of a difference it made. So when it came to taking the final picture for today, the coloring was perfect. I love how Krillin's Eye ~ 31/365 turned out.

Krillin's Eye ~ 31/365

My familiarity with my camera and skills in using it are growing every day with this 365 project. So glad that I chose to join in the fun!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Experiment: Shooting the Moon

One morning last March, I was awake at an incredibly early hour. We were in the middle of a deep-freeze and if it weren't for the fact the dogs needed to go outside, I would have stayed warm in my blankets. But I bundled up and brought them out anyway (my kingdom for a fenced backyard! See "Wish list" on my previous post). I looked up and saw an amazing moon halo and coronas, which I would not have seen had I not been awake that early and if it weren't so cold that ice crystals were forming in the air. It was so cool, but the crappy camera I had at the time didn't quite capture the look as well as I would have liked. I vowed with the new camera to get more pictures like them.

Friday night, I saw a different kind of moon halo caused by super-thin cloud cover. Snap, snap, snap! Pictures!

Moon Halo #1
Exposure:      8
Aperture:     f/22.0
Focal Length:     18 mm
Light Setting: Fluorescent Light (DOH!)

I was playing with the manual settings because the last time I took pictures of the night sky I used the Auto Focus and the results were less than stellar.

Moon Halo #2
Exposure:      6
Aperture:     f/14.0
Focal Length:     18 mm
Light Setting: Fluorescent Light (DOH!)

I was trying different apertures and exposures. I took about 10 pictures at different settings before I realized that I'd had the lighting set to fluorescent. Doh!

Moon Halo #3
Exposure:      6
Aperture:     f/14.0
Focal Length:     18 mm
Light Setting: Auto

So then I switched it to auto. I almost think the fluorescent setting was better because I like the blue-violet tinge to the sky. But the auto setting resulted in a more realistic look. Moon Halo #3 and #4 look slightly different because of shifts in cloud-cover.

Moon Halo #4
Exposure:      6
Aperture:     f/14.0
Focal Length:     18 mm
Light Setting: Auto

I feel these turned out better than the Orion pictures. Every time I play around with the camera, I try to explore more of the manual settings. I've read the manual for my camera, but I'm really one of those people who have to learn by doing. Having this blog to really examine what I'm doing helps because putting it in writing helps me remember, too! Then there are readers like Richard at Capturing Light and Rob at North Metro Photo who occasionally send me bits of wisdom. And other words of encouragement from people like Courtney at and J.J.S. at make my day!  Totally digging this photo blogging thing! :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I've Been Tagged! No, Not That Kind of Tagged...

I’ve been tagged by Rob at North Metro Photo. A simple question answer get to know you type of tagging. Hmmm... Interesting. Okay, I'll bite! :)

8 TV shows I watch on occasions. (In no order):

1. The Big Bang Theory
2. How I Met Your Mother
3. Californication
4. House M.D.
5. The Tudors
6. The Simpsons
7. South Park
8. Mad Men

8 Favorite places to eat and drink (In no order):

1. Home – LOVE to cook
2. Cosetta's
3. Culver's
4. Buffalo Bar & Grill
5. Dave & Buster's (Chuck E. Cheese for adults!)
6. Mongos
7. Punch Pizza - Best Pizza Ever
8. Don's Cafe (Morris, MN)

8 Things I look forward to (In no order):

1. Baseball (Twins) season
2. Hockey (Wild) season
3. Photo hikes
4. "Friends' Weekend" at Cross Lake
5. Summer in general (And Winter when it's summer)
6. Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
7. Dinner (What can I say, I love food!)
8. Finishing off my student loans

8 Things I love about winter (In no order):

1. Snow
2. It's uncomfortably cold instead of uncomfortably hot
3. Downhill skiing
4. Hot Alcoholic Drinks
5. Soups & Stews
6. Orion constellation (Doh, had to steal from Rob)
7. Moon Halos / Coronas (Want to snap more of these with the new camera)
8. Crazy Frost and Ice Formations

8 Things on my wish list (In no order):

1. A mortgage (and a house and yard to go with it)
2. A vacation exploring Great Britain
3. Another vacation in the Mediterranean
4. My own copy of the new PhotoShop
5. Own & Run a Restaurant (just for a while!)
6. A second Bachelors Degree in either poli-sci, communications or journalism
7. To be published in book form (Not a periodical)
8. A 1960sish Ford Mustang. Yeah, that's the ticket.

8 Things I am passionate about:

1. My Boyfriend
2. Our Pets (3 cats, 2 dogs, 1 parrot)
3. Our many and varied friends
4. My family
5. Writing
6. Photography
7. Justice
8. Truth / Honesty

8 Things I have learned from the past (In no order):

1. Empathy
2. Patience
3. Joy in simple things
4. Laughing is better than crying
5. Laughing until you cry is the best
6. Beauty is everywhere
7. Truly great friends are priceless
8. "Measure Twice, Cut Once."

8 Things I want/need (In no order):

1. Better Health & Dental Insurance
2. An espresso maker
3. Camera Filters & Lenses
4. A new tripod
5. External Hard Drive
6. Remote Car Starter
7. A DVR
8. A Margherita Punch Pizza

8 people I’d like to tag, in no particular order:

1. Kris - One Photo a Day
2. Mike - Twin Cities Photography
3. Courtney - This is Courtney
4. Kate - Visual St. Paul
5. slinger - Twin Cities Daily Photo
6. Diane - Just Roaming the Cities
7. Bob - Wood Stone Photography Blog
8. Norbert - Twin Cities Photo Shots

Shimmering Sea of Snow

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lesson #3 ~ Know Your Memory Card

Digital camera memory is an essential piece of digital photography equipment, but it is often overlooked. I know I almost overlooked it - I was not particularly happy my camera didn't come with even a basic one. There are many types of memory and it's a good idea to consider what type of memory a camera uses when you buy one.

It's also important to make sure you have enough memory before you take pictures of on vacation or at an important event. Though memory cards are reusable, their capacity is limited. Have a larger memory card, or extra cards, to make sure you have enough space to take the pictures you need. And always check your camera before you leave to make sure you downloaded everything. I have left the house thinking I had plenty of memory only to determine I was running at about half capacity because I’d taken pictures at an event and hadn’t downloaded them.

The good thing is most digital cameras allow you to adjust the image quality, which can change how many pictures fit one a memory card. You can have a couple-hundred high quality photos on one card and sometimes thousands of low-quality pics on the same card, should you be happy snappy low grade pictures. Also, depending on what kind of light you're in and more factors I can't even imagine, individual photos will have different sizes, so sometimes you can squeak in a few more and sometimes, you end up with less.

Between camera manufacturers, memory card capacity does vary, so make sure to take this into consideration if you're buying a new digital camera. With my Canon XSi, I have two 4-gigabyte cards and they can hold about 350 high quality JPGs or about 110 RAW image files on each of them. I have a capacity for taking about 700 or 220 photos, depending on what file type or image quality I use.

I haven't tried taking pictures with RAW files yet. I wanted to this weekend so I could include one in this lesson, but it's raining in the middle of January in Minnesota, so that was out of the question. But I will be trying it out soon! In the meantime, I think this photo would have been a good one to try in RAW. You can't quite see the ripples in the clouds as well as I saw them when I was taking the photo.

Rippled Clouds

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Experiment with Orion

At the beginning of the year, I started a brand new project - a 365 project. That means I'm trying to take at least one picture every day for the entire year. Thursday was my birthday and as I shuffled back home from some drinks and karaoke with friends, I realized I hadn't taken a picture yet. What could I take a picture of? Its dark, it’s late, and this week's "assignment" is the color white. As I walked up the sidewalk, I looked up and saw Orion. Eureka!

I don't really know what quite possessed me to take a picture of a constellation. Maybe it was the Chuck Norris drinks punching the back of my head. But for some reason, the Orion constellation provides some sort of comfort to me. I've been looking up at it every winter for as long as I've been able to identify it in the night sky thanks to a high school astronomy class.

Orion Constellation ~ 14/365

The first one wasn't perfect, but I played around with my camera until I got a picture with which I was happy. You can quite clearly make out Betelgeuse and Belatrix, which make out his shoulders. And Alniltak, Alnilam, and Mintaka that make up his famous belt. Salph and Rigel make up his knees. The Orion Nebula is really bright. I even managed to somehow include his bow and the top of his sword! Not bad for not being able to see through my viewfinder (my LCD screen kept lighting up when I didn’t want it to, half blinding me when I snapped the shutter). Click through to my Flickr page and read the notes to see which stars are which.

I will try this again and see how good of a picture I can get.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Photography Assignment #4 ~ Macro Photography

Macro photography is close-up photography. I'm not 100% sure why it’s called macro photography, believe me I looked. You'd think it would be something more like micro-photography.

According to Wikipedia, the classical definition is that the image projected on the "film plane" (i.e., film or a digital sensor) is close to the same size as the subject. On 35 mm film (for example), the lens is typically optimized to focus sharply on a small area about the size of the film frame. Basically, it means that when you take a photograph of the subject, the object appears life-sized instead of miniaturized when the photo is printed. The term "macro" has been used in marketing materials to mean a camera is able to focus on a subject close enough so that when a 6×4 inch print is made, the image is life-size or larger.

Lenses designed for macro photography are usually at their sharpest at macro focus distances and are not quite as sharp at long focus distances. That means depth of field is an important consideration in macro photography. Good focus on the most important part of the subject is critical because anything outside the chosen depth of field will be blurry. A small aperture, or high f-number, is advisable to ensure sufficient depth of field and focus. This requires either a slow shutter speed or bright lighting for correct exposure, which brings me to lighting.

If you can't see some of the finer details, there is no way you'll capture it with your camera. Sufficient lighting is absolutely necessary if you want to see everything in the photograph. But, when getting in close, it can be difficult to allow for enough light between the camera and the subject. Some photographers use telephoto macro lenses or ring flashes which circle around the front of a camera lens. But as advertised in this blog, I am an armature! I have not these macro lenses, but maybe I'll get one of those ring flashes later.

I took these pictures today. The single pine branches and frost crystals in this picture aren't shown at a 1:1 magnification ratio, but more like a 1:4 or 1:5. The super-cold in Minnesota has been replaced by some warmth, which melted some of the snow and added moisture to the air. Then when the temperature dropped in the evening, frost began to form and then it slowly built into these long, spiky ice crystals. Shortly after I took these photos in the morning, the sun emerged from behind the clouds and melted them all.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Me and My Flickr

I thought about it today and realized that just about anything pertinent you need to know about me as a person, you could pretty much find out through my Flickr.

Pomme de Terre Park

I'm a writer with photographic aspirations.

Tweak & Krillin
I love animals and could possibly be perceived as a crazy cat lady.

Wood Fungus

I respect and love nature...

Herb Garden

...Somehow this seems to translate to me having a green thumb in recent years.

Sky Parlor & Christmas Tree (Black & White)
I'm enamored with and have a deep curiosity for history.


I can be dark at times, but I try to use it creatively.

Nuts Contain Nuts

I have an odd sense of humor, but at least I'm easily amused.

1951 Mercury Coupe

I think classic cars are sizzling HOT.

Molly, Sam & Lizz... Again!

I have great friends.

Banana Cake with Powdered Sugar

I love food! Cooking and eating! And of course, sometimes drinking.

Night Cap

Photography not only allows others to see what we see, it allows others to see who we are.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Capturing Memories ~ The Hermit Crabs

I take a lot of pictures of things and places, but one of the best things cameras are great for is capturing memories. Photographs are perfect for remembering things you don't want to forget.

Squidworth #4

Last week, I gave away 2 pets I'd had for a few years. They were hermit crabs and weren't really fun pets, but they had been abandoned with me and I'm a sucker for pets of pretty much all shapes and sizes. So I took care of them, fed them, kept them hydrated, worried when they buried themselves and refused to come out. And waited for them to die. After all, they are hermit crabs, how long could they live?

Patrick #4

Turns out longer than I thought. Longer than a hamster, that's for sure. I felt sorry for them, 'cause I wasn't a great hermit crab keeper. I covered the basics. But they looked bored. With their longevity, I thought maybe it was time for them to retire to someone else's place, someone who doted on their crabs. And the sooner the better, because I kept almost forgetting to feed them.

Squidworth #5

I posted an ad on CraigsList. I had quite a few inquiries. But one stood out because she really seemed to know her stuff. So now Patrick and Squidworth are living at the hermit crab retirement home in South Minneapolis. Before I brought them to their new digs, I took some pictures. They are some very interesting looking creatures. I didn't want to forget what they looked like.

Feeler Focus

See the rest of the hermit crab photo set, including size comparison pictures. They were as big as tennis balls.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My Top Photos of 2009

This blog hasn't been around for a year. In fact, it has barely been around for 3 months and only has 22 posts (as of this writing). But, I have had a Flickr account for the better part of a year, so here are my top 5 viewed photos for 2009.Now, some variations of the same basic photos showed up in my list, so I've included them together instead of separating them out. It's just more interesting that way.

1957 Ford Fairlane (Wide) Black & White
One of my favorites, for sure! She was a beauty! See the rest of the 1957 Ford Fairlane set.

1953 Dodge Coronet (Wagon)

I get a LOT of photo search results for Dodge Coronets. But who wouldn’t' want to see her? Just look at her shine! See the rest of the 1953 Dodge Coronet Wagon photo set.

Carnival Rides
This picture was taken at the Wright County Fair. I'm not sure why it is so popular, there really isn't anything special about it. But I'm not complaining :)

Giant Alphabet Blocks ~ Black & White with Color Splash
I love the Black & White with a Touch of Color group on Flickr. This picture is very popular and I'm not sure why, but this is quite easily one of my favorite photos of the year. The color version of this photo also popped up in my top 5 (4).

Mustang Symbol (Squared)

This is my #1 viewed photo on Flickr and it was uploaded just in October, so it has become very popular, very fast. See the 1972 Ford Mustang Grande it was on. On a sidenote, this is the only picture I've taken with my new camera to broach the top 5. All of the rest were taken with a digital camera that was almost 10 years old.

Looking at my top 5, I think I might have a pre-occupation with classic cars. Oh, but they make such good subjects! Especially with the 365 project I've started, I am excited to see what the next year will bring for me, photographically!

Do you have a top 5 or 10 photo list for your photo blog? Leave your link in the comments so we can see!

Sara Duane-Gladden is a freelance writer and photographer in the Twin Cities area of the great state of Minnesota.  

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Project for a New Year!

This year, some friends and I will be partaking in a 365 project. We wanted to do it last year, but procrastination is the devil. So, we made sure to talk about it for a while before  New Year's happened, and it has officially started. Here is my #1 365.

Happy New Year!
  Happy New Year, from Minnesota! :)